There always seems to be a story about this, some bored kids with nowhere to go and nothing to do decide to entertain themselves by tormenting an anonymous person on a bike, or on foot, or in cars.
There was a rash of brick throwers in DC a couple of years back, and this past weekend some more kids throwing bricks on the South Side of Pittsburgh. The biker was hit and suffered a massive gash to his head, but luckily was not killed. (Interestingly, the Post-Gazette said that the bicycle rider “drove under a trestle”)
Last year while riding my bike on the highway-esque Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast DC, a gaggle of kids pelted me with hot water balloons, knocking me off my bike into the lane of fast-moving traffic. Luckily (again), the driver in the lane wasn’t texting and reacted quickly enough to swerve and avoided hitting me.
I called the police, somewhat reluctantly and they answered the call even more reluctantly. The car-bound officers shrugged, saying that there was nothing they could do. The kids had all scattered and I wasn’t really hurt, after all, was I?
Warm weather seems to infuse bored children with the passion to fling heavy objects at cyclists or pedestrians or cars.
I wish I had some better ideas to share, but all I have are questions and frustration.
Are there any solutions?
- Better engagement for kids? Video games, television, and the news perpetuate the concept of violence as a culturally appropriate response to conflict resolution as well as presenting it as entertaining.
- Better police response? I don’t think this is the right one. The U.S. has the world’s highest incarceration rate, according to a study by the King’s College of London at 756 per 100,000 and has 23.4% of the world prison population. “Correctional facilities” seem to “correct” little except the number of people that are part of their communities and raising their families.
- More community and parental involvement? Nice sounding but how to actually implement this? Even families with two parent incomes are being continuously squeezed in this economy leaving many kids alone to entertain and raise themselves.
- Education? (“Rocks hurt!”? Nope.)
- More places for kids to play? I grew up playing kickball on my street nearly every day but many streets are too dangerous for kids and many drivers are too reckless, eliminating huge swaths of cities as potential grounds for play.